CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, acknowledged Charleston Mayor Danny Jones did not call legislators "idiots" regarding legislation that would invalidate city gun control laws.
However, the mayor's words were not endearing or respectful, Hunt told his fellow delegates during a speech on the House floor.
"He basically called the entire committee of political subdivisions unwise. If you're unwise, you're an idiot," Hunt said.
Last week, the House voted by an overwhelming majority in favor of House Bill 2760.
While the bill calls for uniform gun laws across the state, it would nix laws that have been in place in Charleston for 20 years. The laws prevent more than one handgun purchase per person per month and require a 72-hour waiting period before someone can receive the purchased gun.
Before the vote, Hunt spoke at length in favor of the measure. He said Charleston was no longer the center of the legislative universe and called out Jones and the Charleston City Council for saying lawmakers were "idiots" for considering the bill.
Jones fired back moments after the vote. He said he didn't think lawmakers understood what they were approving and it should be up to cities to decide what laws work for them.
The mayor also sent Hunt a letter asking him to "substantiate your claim" that the mayor had used the word "idiot." Hunt said his speech on the floor was in response to the mayor's "challenge."
In his speech, Hunt referred to several reports in the Charleston Daily Mail and Charleston Gazette that mentioned Jones. After combing through the reports, Hunt said Jones never said "idiot." But he said the mayor's words did not convey respect and the 94-4 vote in favor of the bill told the whole story.
"There's a word for that. It's called mandate," Hunt told fellow delegates.
Jones issued a statement later in the day.
And in a phone conversation Thursday, Jones said he did not hear Hunt's speech in person but his secretary had recorded the comments.
"During the course of this speech today, Delegate Hunt admitted that neither Councilman Lane nor I called the members of House of Delegates 'idiots.' Despite this, Delegate Hunt could not muster up the courage to apologize for bearing false witness against members of Charleston's City Council and me," Jones said in the statement.
"This is sad. It would have taken courage that Delegate Hunt obviously lacks," he said.
The mayor continued to say he doesn't have a quarrel with Hunt but is surprised a local delegate would participate in the perennial "Charleston bashing" at the Legislature.
Of the four delegates to vote against the bill, three are Democrats who represent Kanawha County: Nancy Guthrie, Meshea Poore and Danny Wells. The remaining eight Kanawha County delegates, including Hunt, voted for the measure.
Hunt said he wasn't sure why he had become the "lightning rod." However, he wanted people to know he supported the bill. He also presented a chart of data that includes information about violent crimes in Charleston compared with the rest of West Virginia and the country.